Keeping personnel and expensive machinery out of harm’s way is no small task. Featured here are some of the newest designs and components to enhance safety, plus an application story about keeping workers out of a pickle.
Safety plugs keep pickle production up and running
Founded in 1898, Van Holten’s Pickles has been making individually wrapped Pickle-in-a-Pouch products since 1939. Originally located in Milwaukee, in 1956 the company expanded to a larger plant in Waterloo, Wis., where it recently opened a new 53,000-sq-ft facility. The company now produces 18 million individually pouched pickles every year.
With the vast production quantity, working conveyors and pumps are key to keeping pickle production up and running. For years, the company connected its equipment using twist type or pin-and-sleeve connectors partnered with separate disconnect switches. However, the combination of salt, moisture, acid, and heat used in the pickling process caused the switches and plugs to fail regularly. Safety was also an issue, as workers could easily insert or remove a plug without first verifying de-energization at the local disconnect switch.
During their search for an easier and safer way to connect and disconnect equipment, Van Holten’s engineers learned of Decontactor switch-rated plugs and receptacles from Meltric Corp., Franklin, Wis. The plugs allow workers to safely make and break electrical equipment connections, even under full load. Because they are UL switch and horsepower rated, the Decontactors meet NEC requirements for a motor “line of sight” disconnect. What’s more, the devices also cost less than conventional connectors over the long run.
Project engineer Arland Wingate says that the company does not hardwire most conveyors because being able to quickly disconnect and reconnect equipment for repair or replacement helps minimize downtime. Electrical safety during equipment change-outs, once a concern, is less so now because the Decontactors’ safety shutter and internal arc chambers prevent exposure to live parts and arc flash.
According to Wingate, the heat and harsh atmosphere ruined previous plugs because the brass contacts often corroded together. That long-term operating cost was a big factor in selecting the Decontactors, which feature solid silver-nickel contacts with better corrosion resistance.
In addition to production equipment, the company has installed several Decontactors along one exterior wall, where they provide power to a large cucumber-loading machine when it needs to be moved along the back of the building. Future expansion is focused on the tank yard where plans call for an additional 150 tanks. Power pedestals with four Decontactor receptacles each are used throughout the existing tank yard for quick connection and disconnection of portable conveyors that move pickles from the trucks and load them into tanks.
For more information, visit meltric.com or call (800) 824-4031.
EtherCAT box enables machine-mounted safety
The EP1908 EtherCAT Box with open safety TwinSAFE technology provides distributed safety I/O functions in more protection levels than previously available. The IP67-rated model is suitable for use in harsh environments and outside of electrical cabinets. Eight 24-Vdc safety inputs can be used to attach safety sensors via rugged M12 connectors. Safety sensor signals may be received directly on the machine, rather than requiring a separate control cabinet.
Beckhoff Automation LLC
Controller monitors pressure-sensitive components
The PSSR-2 safety interface controller monitors any safety switch, mat, edge, or bumper system by using an end-of-the-line resistor at a CAT3 PLd SIL2 safety performance level. With three output contacts and force-guided relays, this 22.5-mm DIN-rail-mountable control unit is suitable for any industry, including packaging, automation, manufacturing, and everyday applications that require a controller and pressure-sensitive safety products.
Safety controller suits Profinet applications
The SafeLOGIC safety controller Profinet model executes the safety-related program, plus monitors the application’s overall configuration. The controller uses openSAFETY to monitor the system and shut it down if necessary, and can handle signals from openSAFETY components such as light curtains and variable frequency drives from multiple manufacturers. Now that the controller is available for Profinet, Smart Safe Reaction technology, which guarantees response times of 10 msec, can be easily integrated into Profinet applications.
B&R Industrial Automation Corp.
Motor controller features enhanced safety
Allen-Bradley ArmorStart LT distributed motor controllers install on machines without an enclosure, and quickly connect to enterprise networks. The controllers are suitable for coordinating conveyor motor systems in material handling and packaging applications and other types of warehouse distribution systems. To enhance safety, the devices contain a standard, local disconnect feature that allows operators to turn off the motor and perform lockout/tagout procedures during maintenance.
Safety gloves help protect operators
A new line of safety gloves provides exceptional cut, puncture, and impact resistance. General-purpose styles feature nylon yarn construction with polyurethane coating for superb grip and dexterity, while antistatic work gloves protect hands and products from electrostatic buildup. Additional glove types include styles made of steel core cut-resistant knit; driver’s electric arc-resistant gloves feature full-grain goatskin leather and steel core cut-resistant lining.